Pick My Brain Interview: RD Reynolds

Creator of WrestleCrap

WrestleCrap.com’s creator is R.D. Reynolds. RD is a rarity in the wrestling business because he has one thing most people badly need to get (especially fans on the internet): a sense of humor. RD’s site became such a success that he published his own book, which sold amazingly well.

And now he’s back with is a kick-ass book that everyone was saying for years needed to be written. Death of WCW is a must-read for any wrestling fan who wants to read how the once-mighty WCW fell on its ass and was sold to WWE for less money than the net worth of my next door neighbor’s house. This book is a must-read. I repeat, a MUST-READ.

I suppose I should mention that Bryan Alvarez (Figure 4 Weekly) also co-wrote the book, but we’re protesting Bryan because he wussed out on this interview. You see, we thought it would be cute if both RD and Bryan answered these questions together. Problem is, Bryan left us hanging after originally agreeing to do it. Don’t give me this, “I’m too busy” nonsense, Bryan. If Meltzer can do it, you can do it. In fact, you did do it, in 2002.

In the meantime, let’s pick the brain of Death of WCW’s better, and funnier, co-author… RD Reynolds.

1. Please use this first question to plug anything and everything you’d like. Books, websites, newsletters, whatever. This is our way of thanking you for doing this interview.

Please buy Death of WCW. Please. My teacup poodles will starve if you don’t.

2. Here’s the most obvious question. I ordered Death of WCW two months ago, and was promised an early November delivery date. What the Hell, when is this damn book coming out?

You don’t have yours? I have mine. It’s really nice, new and shiny. In fact, I cuddle up next to it in bed at night. It warms my innards that the last thing I see before I fall asleep at night is Eric Bischoff’s face scowling back at me.

Seriously, there was a glitch at the printers, and it got delayed. It should be on store shelves by mid December. I really do have a copy, so it really does exist.

3. Bryan has gone on record saying he doesn’t have a day job, which means either Figure 4 Weekly is either raking it in, or Woodinville, WA has a low cost of living. RD, what about you? What is your full-time job, and career aspirations (if any)?

Unfortunately, the cost of living in Indianapolis is far greater than that in Bothell, so I have four full-time jobs: ice cream truck driver, fry cook, nasal decongestant tester, and, on the weekends, I put on a white wig and work as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Other than writing about it in my spare time, I have no aspirations for a wrestling career.

4. The Armpit is often compared to WrestleCrap. For the benefit of myself and anyone else who may not know what WrestleCrap is, can you give us a brief lowdown of what your product is all about?

WrestleCrap is a website that I created with the intention of making my wrestling friends laugh. That’s really all I ever wanted to do. Basically, I post two “inductions” each week in which I bring up the silliest ideas to ever appear inside a wrestling ring. I look at each gimmick or angle with a tongue firmly planted in cheek, and take to task the bookers who came up with such ideas. I try to leave the workers alone – after all, they never asked to be dressed up as a Shark or to impregnate an elderly woman with a hand. They were just doing what they were told. Had they said no, the promoter would have shown them the door. So I try to not fault the workers unless it is something blatantly their fault.

In addition to the inductions, I now post a stupid wrestling item each week (Someone Bought THIS!), and a section where I just speak my mind (RD’s Ramblings). On top of that, Madison Carter has resurrected his fabulous Weird World of Wrestling, where he looks at odd things in wrestling that weren’t necessarily WrestleCrap. Blade Braxton also pens Jobber of the Week, in which we get a look at the “enhancement talent” that always dutifully did their JOB. I love reading Madison and Blade’s stuff – it’s always awesome.

The success of the site actually led to a book, WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Wrestling. I’m told some people have even read it!

5. Without having read Death of WCW, I’m still pretty sure you go into how Vince Russo was the final death knell of the company. Vince Russo killed WCW. Dusty Rhodes killed the NWA. Yet who have been the last two bookers of TNA? Vince Russo and Dusty Rhodes. Please, explain to us why anyone in his/her right mind would give booking power to the 2 people who have definitive track records of killing once-mighty wrestling companies. We still can’t quite figure that one out. (Editor’s note: we have since read the book, and highly recommend it).

Vince Russo didn’t kill WCW, nor did Dusty kill the NWA. Both certainly injected a healthy dose of poison into the systems, but neither played the role of Dr. Jack. When you read the book, though, you will see that we do, in fact, name the man who killed WCW. In that way, it’s almost like a murder mystery.

Wrestling is notorious for being an industry where no one ever learns from the past. One of the primary reasons Bryan and I wanted to write this book was so that future promoters would not make the same mistakes WCW made. Although we know no one in WWE will bother to read it (even though we dedicated it to two of WWE’s finest!), we can at least sleep easier at night knowing we tried.

6. Okay, we all know why WCW died. But few people give credit for why it succeeded. Let’s go against the grain. Briefly, to whom or what do you credit the rise of WCW from a sinking money pit to the #1 wrestling company in the world during the 1996-1998 era?

As much as we would like to see people within the industry to read the book and study why the company died, they really need to read the book and study why the company grew in the manner it did as well. Eric Bischoff had the vision to take not only WCW, but the entire wrestling industry in the United States, into the future. The wrestling business in the mid 1990’s was stale, stuck in a time warp where everyone thought it was still 1986.

It wasn’t. Fans wanted something new. Eric Bischoff looked around the world, took ideas from Japan, took ideas from ECW. Then he brought in talent: not just big names from the WWF, but he also brought in guys from ECW and made deals to trade out talent with Japan.

The biggest thing he did, however, was book strong heels in the New World Order. Everyone wanted to see these guys get their comeuppance. If anyone want to see how to book pro wrestling, they need look no further than the than the early days of the n.W.o..

Of course, part of what led to the downfall was the fact that the heels never got their just due from the babyfaces, and that Bischoff had seemingly no clue what to do as a follow up to the n.W.o..

7. No one has written the Death of ECW, but the recent Rise and Fall of ECW DVD release tried to give a few reasons on why the company folded. Paul Heyman says it was because they couldn’t get a TV deal (forgetting that when he had a TV deal, they were still losing money). Eric Bischoff claims it was because ECW couldn’t survive just by catering to a niche audience (forgetting that ECW’s buyrates weren’t that much worse than WCW’s at the end). Briefly, why do you feel ECW died?

I remember before I pitched the idea of Death of WCW, I thought about doing Death of ECW instead. I decided that it would be far too depressing to write, because in ECW, it seemed like even until the very end, everyone in the organization was trying their best to make things work. Obviously, that wasn’t the case with WCW.

In my mind, ECW’s downfall comes down to one thing: Paul Heyman isn’t a businessman. He was/is a wrestling genius, but keeping books and looking at costs was not his strong suit, and in part, it needed to be. I don’t think they’d have ever competed with WCW or WWE in a real sense, but I think they’d still be around if they had better cost analysis. My guess is that they would be the second biggest promotion in the US, with TNA still losing money by the bucketfuls.

8. In 10 words or less, give us your thoughts on the following current gimmicks. While these are relatively new and haven’t had a chance to fail or succeed yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t comment on them:

Eugene: Who could be more sympathetic than a mentally retarded wrestler?

Mohammed Hassan: Until he gets curly-toed boots, he’s no Iron Sheik.

Simon Dean: It didn’t work with the Bodydonnas, but Nova could do it.

Shark Boy: Needs to team with John Tenta.

La Resistance: Rob Conway is too talented to be stuck with this gimmick.

JBL: Proof that the crap always rises to the top.

Carlito Caribbean Cool: Getting injured during a big push is not cool.

Abyss: Where were my balloons when I visited Universal?

The Alpha Male: With Russo, we’d have gotten Alpha Male vs. Master Beta.

9. Doing a complete 180 from WrestleCrap, let’s revisit some gimmicks that were truly awesome. In 10 words or less, please give us your thoughts on these great ideas:

The Undertaker: Stupidest gimmick to ever get over.

Million Dollar Man: Perhaps my favorite heel ever.

Tiger Mask: Revolutionized wrestling.

nWo: The best – and worst – thing to happen to WCW.

Shawn Michaels’ stripper act: Turned countless male wrestling fans gay (but not me).

The Fabulous Ones: I still can’t believe Steve Keirn was ever considered “sexy.”

Midnight Express: RD’s Dream Match: Midnights versus the Hart Foundation.

Big Bubba Rogers: How can you go wrong with a pork pie hat?

Barry Windham’s “Lone Wolf” character: I preferred the Stalker – camo in a wrestling ring!

Steve Austin as “Stone Cold”: Perhaps my favorite babyface ever.

Kamala: White moons, yellow stars…where’s the purple horseshoes?

Abdullah the Butcher: Better Abdullah’s House of Ribs than House of Carved Foreheads.

Mikey Whipwreck as the lovable loser: Once you win, it’s all over.

Bill Goldberg’s winning streak: Simplest is sometimes best.

“The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff: Loved his feud with “Magga TA”

The Varsity Club: Rotondo was a better wrestling team captain than boat captain.

Big Poppa Pump: Frightening.

10. Time for Number Association. Please give us a number for each of the following:

Number of copies this book has to sell to make your publisher happy: 1,000,007

Percentage of WWE staff that SHOULD read Death of WCW: 100%

Percentage of WWE staff that WILL read Death of WCW: 0%

Percentage of WWE staff that doesn’t even know what WCW is: 25%

Number of email messages you receive per day: 100 or so

Number of months Panda Energy will wait before selling TNA to the next gullible investor: They haven’t already?

Number of hair transplants Tom Arnold has: Not enough.

The height, in inches, AJ Styles looks when standing next to Kevin Nash: 30

Number of shoot interviews you’ve seen: 6 or 7

Number of hours you work per week at your day job: 45

Ratio of every bad gimmick to every good gimmick in the last 10 years: 5:1

Best year you ever had in terms of newsletter subscriptions or website hits: 2000

Favorite year to be a wrestling fan: 1997

Least favorite year to be a wrestling fan: 2001

Your age: 35

Number of years you’ve been watching wrestling: 20

11. You and Bryan both have regular jobs (well, you do, Bryan said in his last Pick My Brain that he doesn’t have a day job). You run WrestleCrap.com, have a wife, answer tons of reader mail, and have to keep up with countless hours of wrestling. How in the world did you find time to write Death of WCW?

I pretty much put my life on hold. Fortunately, I have a real life boss that is very forgiving when it comes to my time – if I need to take a day off here or there, he lets me so long as it doesn’t interfere with production at work. He’s been nothing short of great to me. Of course, I’ve done my share of overtime for the company over the years, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

My wife was also incredibly supportive too – I couldn’t have done the book with a wife who nagged me constantly.

12. People in the wrestling community were amazed at the success of your WrestleCrap book, and are equally stunned at the success of Death of WCW. As a 2-time author, to what or whom do you credit for this impressive literary track record?

The first book is completely attributable to my fellow Crappers (WrestleCrap.com readers). The second book is due to them, along with obviously Bryan’s Figure Four devotees.

Oh yeah, and Bryan and I put in a few hours working on it, too. lol

13. How is it possible for 2 people to write a cohesive book together? Did you do one part and he did the other? Did you both write and some poor schmuck had to piece it all together? Did Bryan sit on your lap while you wrote it? You on his lap? Come on, solve the mystery here.

We just sat side by side – I’d have broken the poor guy’s legs if I sat on him. 8)

Seriously, it takes a lot of work, a lot of communication. Keep in mind that Bryan and I have never actually met; we’ve only corresponded by email and obviously a bunch of phone calls. I just got his newsletter, and thought he was very funny, a very talented writer.

It also takes two people that view things very similarly. If, for instance, Bryan was insane and thought Vince Russo was a good writer and therefore that he was completely absolved of blame, well….that would have made for a very difficult writing assignment. I don’t think I could write a book with someone who had an IQ of 17.

14. Be honest, who slacked off the most in the writing of this book? Did you do most of it while Bryan rode your coattails and took half the credit? Vice versa? I’m expecting you to give the politically safe answer here, but nonetheless, we thought we’d ask.

Seriously? In the original draft, I wrote most of the first part of the book and the final chapter, and he wrote most everything in between. He wrote the bulk of the book. I like to say he did all the “heavy lifting” – he had all the facts, all the little stuff, that I had no clue about. At one point, I told him that I felt bad because he was doing so much.

Once the original draft was done, however, it was very wordy, very verbose. There was simply way too much in there. It was almost unreadable because there was so much detail. It read like “this happened then this happened then this happened”. So I spent the better part of six weeks rewriting it. Almost everything in the original draft is in the final product, but it’s been reworked in such a way that it is much easier to follow. I also came up with the idea for the “sidebars”, because there was so much info that didn’t fit easily in the flow of the story but I really wanted to be in there.

In the end, I’d say we both did 50%, but it’s not the way you’d expect. It wasn’t like I wrote 175 pages and he wrote 175 pages. I’d say originally he wrote 225 pages, I wrote 125 pages, and then I rewrote 350 pages. I think we both did the part that played to our strengths. I couldn’t have asked for a better co-author.

15. Who would you prefer to book the following promotions in 2005, and why?

WWE Raw: It doesn’t matter, because the show will always revolve around the heir to throne. Vince could book it, Dusty could book it, Steph could book it, I could book it, you could book it, the Haiti Kid could book it. It will always be the same.

WWE SmackDown: I’d love to see Paul Heyman get the book entirely, just because then we’d get a completely different product than we see on Monday night. Well, actually, we wouldn’t, because Vince would always have final say, so I guess again it doesn’t matter.

NWA TNA: See Raw. It’s funny, because pro wrestling should be a business, but there are people in both organizations that are such marks that they have to be on top, so much so that business is pushed aside for their egos.

ROH: I just wish I could see it; how I long for the old days when there would be blocks of wrestling on TV, and we’d get OVW, ECW, WCW, WWF, and whatever local promotion was running at the time. I’d love to see more ROH, but I just don’t get to see it. I could order tapes, but I think there needs to be a convenience factor involved that comes with being on free television.

New Japan: Oh boy, you’re asking the wrong guy. I’ve not followed the Japanese wrestling scene close since the late 90’s.

NOAH: Ditto.

16. Please use this last question to tell your fans anything you’d like. Thank them, beg them, insult them, whatever. Thanks a lot guys, good luck with the book.

I want to thank all my fellow Crappers that have stood by me through the good times and bad, and have now allowed me to con a company to twice release a book with the word “CRAP” in the title.

Screw Dusty Rhodes – that’s the American Dream.

See, it’s as simple as that. RD knows the score, and knows how to deliver an interview. Once again, check out WrestleCrap and buy the damn book already. If you’re rich, order a thousand copies and send them to Vince McMahon, since he needs to read it more than anybody else does.